Friday, February 25, 2011

Sentara to Build Stand-Alone Emergency Department in Lake Ridge

Outpatient Campus will Provide 24-hour Emergency Care, Advanced Imaging and Lab Services

Sentara Healthcare will soon begin construction on Sentara Lake Ridge – an innovative and modern outpatient healthcare campus that will offer convenient, high quality services and a patient-focused experience.

Sentara Lake Ridge is Sentara Healthcare’s first outpatient facility in Northern Virginia to provide 24-hour emergency care by board-certified physicians and advanced imaging and laboratory services. Located at the corner of Minnieville Road and Summit School Road, the 43,500 square-foot facility is expected to open in early 2012.

"One of the reasons we are opening Sentara Lake Ridge is to provide an alternative site for emergency care in our community," says Megan Perry, President of Sentara Potomac Hospital. "The Emergency Department at Sentara Potomac Hospital was designed 15 years ago to serve 40,000 patients per year, and now serves close to 60,000. We want to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the community and we believe that Sentara Lake Ridge will help us achieve that goal."

"A good patient experience is important to us and an overcrowded emergency room can cause longer wait times and create frustration for patients," says Perry. "The population within a five-mile radius of Lake Ridge is expected to increase by nearly 10 percent over the next four years, so opening Sentara Lake Ridge will allow us to better serve the emergency care needs of residents. Also, Sentara Lake Ridge will provide a very convenient location for imaging and lab services."

The Emergency Department at Sentara Lake Ridge will be open 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week and will be staffed by the board-certified physicians of BestPractices, who provide services at Sentara Potomac Hospital’s Irene V. Hylton Emergency Care Center. Emergency patients at this facility will be walk-ins only. Ambulances may transport patients who need to be admitted to the hospital for additional care, after they have been evaluated at Sentara Lake Ridge.

In addition to emergency services, there will be CT imaging services, digital mammography, bone density scanning, ultrasound and x-ray, plus laboratory services. These will be used by emergency patients and other patients who make appointments for these services. The advanced imaging services will be under the medical direction of Potomac Radiology and Imaging Associates, who also provide services at Sentara Potomac Hospital, and will primarily have weekday business hours and some limited weekend appointments.

Sentara is committed to adding value to the communities it serves. Sentara Potomac Hospital is the first Sentara hospital in Northern Virginia and joined the system in December 2009. Sentara Lake Ridge will be the first Sentara outpatient healthcare campus in Northern Virginia.

Since coming to Northern Virginia, Sentara has also introduced Medical Transport services and Home Care services. Sentara will introduce Sentara eCare®, a comprehensive electronic medical record to Sentara Potomac Hospital in late fall 2011,and to Sentara Lake Ridge upon opening.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stroke Alert!

Stay ahead of the third leading cause of death

We live in a world where everything happens quickly. Instant communication, instant purchases, instant gratification. Sometimes, to counteract the rush of life, it’s good to stop and smell the roses…except when you’re dealing with a possible stroke. To survive the third leading cause of death, time is of the extreme essence.

“It's very important to take immediate action if someone is experiencing signs of stroke,” explains Luis F. Eljaiek, Jr., M.D., medical director of the Irene V. Hylton Emergency Care Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital. “If stroke symptoms are recognized early and 9-1-1 is called, we can give the patient a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. The catch is that tPA must be given within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms, so quick medical intervention is vital to a successful recovery.”

When it looks like stroke, don’t hesitate. Call 9-1-1.

Stroke Alert!

If you or someone with you has one or more of these stroke warning signs, don't delay – call 9-1-1 right away!

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weight Loss Surgery Affords Stafford Mom a Healthier Life

Melissa Ndebe (pictured), a busy Stafford mother of three, came to terms with needing help to lose weight after thinking long and hard about having weight loss surgery. Now, 230 pounds lighter, she’s living a much healthier and happier life.

Standing at a loooong six feet, two inches, Melissa was used to being one of the tallest people in the room. But after having kids and living a very busy life, she wasn’t only the tallest person, but the biggest.

“My weight really started to balloon after I had my kids,” says the Stafford mom of three. “At my heaviest I was 415 pounds. Frankly, the weight was holding me back. Many people suggested that I have weight loss surgery but I was really skeptical. I didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t handle my weight problem myself."

“Mrs. Ndebe came to our office with diabetes, liver problems, high cholesterol and severe sleep apnea,” says Dr. Denis Halmi, medical director of the Weight Loss Surgery Center at Sentara Potomac Hospital. “Those conditions are all gone now – along with the 230 pounds.”

On a scale from one to 10, Melissa rates her quality of life before the surgery a four and after – a 10.

“I didn’t realize how much of life I was missing until now,” she says. “When you’re that big, you tend to adapt, but after losing the weight I can really look back and see that adapting to life is just not enough. The healthy lifestyle changes that I’ve made have been passed on to my family. In fact, my husband has lost weight and my kids eat healthier as well.”

For those facing the struggles and frustrations of living with obesity, get your weight loss surgery questions answered at our free seminar. Learn about Sentara Potomac Hospital's surgical solutions to weight loss including laparoscopic gastric banding, gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and revisional procedures.

Also, find out more about insurance coverage and the Sentara Potomac Hospital weight loss surgery team at this free event on Thursday, February 24, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Register online or call our Health Connection at (703) 221-2500.

Sentara Potomac Hospital is designated a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. The ASMBS Center of Excellence designation recognizes surgical programs with a demonstrated track record of excellent outcomes in bariatric surgery.

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love is Good Medicine

Research Shows Relationships Help Maintain Heart Health

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N., Director of Community Education

For some of us, it’s an excuse to prolong the chocolate orgy that began around Halloween. For others, it’s another example of crass commercialism sucking in naive consumers. And for some, it is actually a day to celebrate love and romance.

Whatever your view of Valentine’s Day, you’re savvy enough to realize that those whimsical little pink and red hearts adorning Valentine cards don’t resemble or have anything to do with our own pumping heart muscle. Or do they? As a symbol of loving relationships, those cute little hearts surprisingly have a LOT to do with our own hearts. Why? Because a growing number of respected researchers are coming to the conclusion that love is vital to heart health.

Indeed, cardiologist Dr. Dean Ornish, considered by many to be the guru of heart health, deals exclusively with this subject in his book Love and Survival, 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health. Dr. Ornish is best known for advocating a super low fat diet that could reverse some heart vessel damage. It is quite noteworthy that this same doctor should have this to say on the healing power of love and intimacy:

“I am not aware of any other factor in medicine -- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery -- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death from all causes.”

If you think Dr. Ornish is off in left field on this one, he has a lot of distinguished company out there with him. Scientists at Yale University examined degrees of blocked arteries (the culprits responsible for heart attacks and strokes) in 119 men and women. Those who felt the most loved by significant others had markedly less blockage.

Duke University looked at 1,400 male and female heart patients with the aim of measuring the importance of having a close confidant. After five years, those who were unmarried or lacked a confidant were three times more likely to have died than those who had a close confidant.

February is Heart Month, a good time to take stock of your own heart health. Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly. Engage in activities to strengthen your heart such as aerobic exercise, losing excess weight, and tweaking your diet in a healthy (translation: less burgers and fries!) direction. Attend a heart health event offered by Sentara Potomac Hospital.

Just as important, or as Dr. Ornish maintains, more importantly, cultivate your loving relationships. Jump off the Shock Wave Roller Coaster of life and take time to be with yourself as well as others. Learn some quiet “exercises” such as deep breathing or meditation. These help to maintain connection to self.

Connect to others by cherishing and nurturing relationships with family and friends. Practice the art of really listening to those you love. If you have no one to listen to, it’s time to “reach out and touch someone.” There are plenty of folks out there who would make grand friends. Find them by joining a faith group or volunteering.

We are social creatures who thrive not only emotionally but also physically by our connection to each other.

Opening This Summer!
Sentara Heart and Vascular Center at Potomac Hospital. Residents in our community will now have the option of receiving cardiovascular care closer to home with the new array of services to be offered. Learn more here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Let Smoking Break Your Heart

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

One of the toughest, and saddest, experiences of my nursing career occurred while I was an Administrative Nursing Coordinator (ANC) right here at Sentara Potomac Hospital. A relatively young man, in his 40’s, had suffered a cardiac arrest. Despite extensive efforts on the part of the Emergency Care Center team, he did not survive. It was my unenviable task to accompany the emergency physician to inform the family. After breaking the news as gently as possible, the physician softly posed the question, "Did he smoke?" The answer was yes.

At the time I remember wondering why of all questions, the doctor asked that one. After all, this was a case of undetected heart disease, not lung cancer or emphysema. A little research on my part quickly gave me the answer: smoking increases the risk for heart disease, and for young people who smoke (under age 50) the relative risk factor is even greater than for those over 50.

All smokers should understand exactly how they are assaulting their hearts every time they light up. Smoking increases blood pressure, decreases HDL (“good” cholesterol), decreases exercise tolerance and increases chance of blood clots. Continuing to smoke after heart surgery increases the risk of recurring heart disease. Women who smoke and use oral contraceptives greatly increase their risk of heart disease and stroke compared to their non-smoking counterparts. A smoker with a family history of heart disease greatly increases his/her risk to follow in their family’s footsteps.

Cigarette smoking is so prevalent (1 out of 5 Americans smoke) and significant a risk factor that the Surgeon General has declared it “the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States.” If you are a smoker there is no time more perfect than February, American Heart Month, to put down cigarettes for good.

Online resources abound: check out the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society or American Lung Association’s website for assistance.

Need face to face support? Sentara Potomac Hospital offers a Nicotine Anonymous Support Group every Wednesday evening from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Hylton Education Center. Please, don’t let cigarettes break your heart!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Need to Know Your Heart Health Numbers?

Register for Sentara Potomac Hospital's special Heart Screening which includes:

~Complete 12-lead EKG Reading (includes atrial fibrillation screening)
~Cholesterol Test
~Blood Pressure Check and
~A Heart Risk Evaluation

After the screening, participants are sent a pocket-sized card with an image of your baseline EKG on one side and essential emergency information and cardiac history on the other.

These screenings are now full. If you would like to be put on the waiting list for upcoming screenings, please call 703-221-2500.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Patient’s Best Friend? Pooches Play Happy Role in Recovery

Man’s best friend...the incomparable Lassie, Frazier’s Eddie, the first-dog, Bo. There’s something special about a human and his dog and the invisible bond that ties the two together forever. Having a dog as your friend means a lot of cuddling, playing and maybe a little drooling. Canine companionship has been proven to improve the quality of life for millions of people.

There’s no reason why the benefits of pet companionship shouldn’t be shared with others including those who are in the hospital. Research has shown that when therapy dogs visit patients in the hospital, the patients’ spirits are raised and heart rates and blood pressures decrease. Also, they help people cope with life changes, loneliness, and disease recovery.

Potomac Hospital has a Pet Therapy Program that is made up of specially trained volunteers and their dogs who have met the rigorous criteria established through Therapy Dog International and Delta Society - nationally recognized training and registration programs for people and their pets.

“Before becoming a registered Pet Therapy Dog, the dogs and the owners must pass health screenings, skills tests and aptitude tests,” explains Ann Boyle, who’s the volunteer coordinator of Potomac’s Pet Therapy Program. “All of us who volunteer at Sentara Potomac have undergone extensive training. In addition to training and tests, both the dog and handler have to possess the demeanor and personality to visit patients.”

Our Pet Therapy Program members include Ann Boyle and Sadie, a 3-year-old black Labrador Retriever; Anita Rose and Triton, a 4-year-old Portuguese Water Dog; Kris Campesi and Golden Retrievers Titus and Buddy; and our newest members, Jayda, and her owner, Marlene Abshire; and Marianne, a clumber spaniel and Molly, a boxer, and their owner, Nicole Bukowski. Jayda (pictured) is a five-year-old Rottweiler-Sheep Dog mix who loves pizza crust, people and lots of attention.

“Patients, staff and visitors love to see the Pet Therapy Dogs,” says Boyle. “People really perk up when they see us coming and that’s wonderful.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

Loving Dad Leaves Healthy Legacy

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN
Director of Community Education

He was my hero, my mentor, my friend. When I was little, he made me oatmeal for breakfast. I never could tell him that I didn't like oatmeal. His frequent compliment, "you look so pretty, honey," did more to build a gawky teenager's self esteem than any other words. He encouraged me to pursue not only nursing, but a college degree as well, noting I would be glad of it in years to come (I was, and still am!).

My daughter fondly remembers his standard telephone greeting: a boisterous rendition of "Yes we have no Bananas!" He had a wonderful heart, but not a physically healthy one. He was my father, and when he died of a cardiac arrest 22 years ago, a light went out in my life.

I hope I inherited some of my father’s wonderful traits: he was a gentle, compassionate man who made a mark in his own little corner of the world. I do know that I inherited one of the risk factors which eventually contributed to his heart disease: high blood pressure.

Fortunately, I had uncharacteristic headaches which led me to employee health to have my blood pressure checked. It was, to put it mildly, “sky high” for a woman in her early thirties and has been kept in check with medications ever since. I say “fortunately” because the headaches were a warning; for most, the onset of high blood pressure has no symptoms, ergo its nickname “the silent killer.”

So it is with other risk factors for heart disease: high cholesterol doesn’t come up and introduce itself to the unsuspecting victim, and some 7 million Americans are unknowingly walking around with diabetes, a condition which greatly increases risk of heart disease.

The irony is this: heart disease remains the biggest killer of both men and women in this country, yet remains one of the most preventable diseases if risk factors are recognized and reckoned with. So what can one do to beat heart disease at its own game?

First, know that you are what your parents are. If mom or dad had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and/or heart disease you are at greater risk for these conditions.

Second, know your numbers. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, or have not had a blood test to check your lipid profile (includes total, LDL, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides) and a fasting glucose (test for diabetes), do it! What you don’t know could kill you, quite literally. Your physician can advise you when and how often these tests are warranted, considering age and existing risk factors. I am faithfully and gratefully on my doctor’s doorstep every three months to make sure my blood pressure remains well-controlled. If you are already on medication for any of these conditions never, ever stop taking them without consulting your physician!

Third, take stock of your life style habits. Being overweight, sedentary, and poorly managing stress all contribute to increasing your risk of heart disease. Smokers beware: if you think your greatest risk from this horrific habit is lung cancer you are wrong: heart disease kills far more smokers than lung cancer.

My father’s life light was extinguished far too early. For your loved ones’ sake as well as your own, let your own light shine brightly on, by adopting a proactive attitude toward health!

Need to know your heart health numbers? Register for Sentara Potomac Hospital's special Heart Screening which includes: Complete 12-lead EKG Reading (includes atrial fibrillation screening), Cholesterol Test, Blood Pressure Check and a Heart Risk Evaluation. After the screening, participants are sent a pocket-sized card with an image of your baseline EKG on one side and essential emergency information and cardiac history on the other. Register online now or call 703-221-2500.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

American Cancer Society Offers Clinical Trials Matching Service

The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Clinical Trials Matching Service is a free, confidential program that helps patients, their families, and healthcare workers find cancer clinical trials most appropriate to a patient’s medical and personal situation.

Cancer clinical trials are research studies to find new drugs or methods to prevent, detect or treat cancer. Doctors use this research to learn whether a new treatment is safe and effective in patients. Such studies are vital to the development of new cancer treatments, prevention and early detection methods. ACS specialists are trained to answer questions about clinical trial participation and to open the door to treatment options available through research studies.

ACS helps you navigate through the clinical trial system by putting patients in contact with the coordinators for studies in which they are interested. For more information on the ACS Clinical Matching Service, please call 1-800-303-5691 or visit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Representative Gerry Connolly Tours Sentara Potomac Hospital

The Hon. Gerry Connolly, U.S. House of Representatives, visited the Sentara Potomac Hospital Laboratory to experience the critical and expanding role laboratory testing plays in patient care. Rep. Connolly was greeted and given a tour of Sentara’s facilities by Dr. Jerome O’Connell. Pictured left to right: Michele Herman, histotechnician, Dr. Claudine Morcos, Dr. Janna Kelleher, Dr. Jerome O’Connell and Representative Connolly.

The tour focused on the important role of pathologists in healthcare, and included a demonstration of how pathologists use cutting-edge technology and laboratory tests to screen for cancer and precancerous lesions. Of particular interest was a discussion on the need to preserve the important role pathologists can play as a diagnostic consultant for patient care.

“The tour demonstrated how the Laboratory’s role is a vital component of patient care from diagnosis to treatment. Using state-of-the-art technology, pathologists can look at individual specimens and laboratory tests, provide a rapid diagnosis, and help guide patient treatment,” said Dr. O’Connell “We are honored that Representative Connolly would take time out of his busy schedule to visit our Laboratory.”